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A CurtainUp London Review
Time Is Love/Tiempo Es Amor

"No-one is loyal. No-one is faithful."
— Seamus
Time Is Love/Tiempo Es Amor
Jessica Ledon as Havana
(Photo: DWGH)
Playing partially in English and Spanish, Chè Walker's play premiered in August 2018, in Los Angeles where it is set and brings to London, Jessica Ledon as Havana, the woman around whom much of the story centres. For those of us with no Spanish, there is no equivalent translation so some of the words will remain a mystery, although the vast majority of the text is in English. The play is set in the Latino, Eastern side of Los Angeles in the world of crime, sex workers and drugs in 2016 and 2019.

Ten years ago, at Shakespeare's Globe Chè Walker's play The Frontline looked at a similar population in Walker's home Camden Town but in a more episodic way review. In Time is Love the stories are convincingly threaded together. Walker has said that Othello was his inspiration and what if Desdemona really had been unfaithful?

Blaz (Gabriele Akuwudike), a small time criminal, has been with the beautiful Havana (Jessica Ledon) since they were childhood sweethearts at school. Blaz gets three years in prison while his friend Karl gets away from the crime scene. Havana is seduced by Seamus (Cary Crankson) whom she has no idea is a policeman, let alone a bent copper and the very one who arrested Blaz. We feel the loneliness that Blaz's incarceration has caused her.

Is it an accident that Sheila Atim so recently played Desdemona's woman servant Emilia in Othello at the Globe? Here she is as a supporter of Havana, knowing what she does from her job at a lap dancer at the club owned by the unseen Jimmy Rotimi. Atim has an amazing stage presence, she is tall and stately and as Rosa speaks a mesmerising account of the loss of her lover and it is impossible to let your eyes leave her. When she says "My currency is loneliness" she may be referring to what brings her employment as a lap dancer or where she finds herself now after the death of her "married to someone else" lover. Walker's play is full of such riddles. Sheila Atim is also the composer of the atmospheric music for the play but sadly we don't hear her sing.

There is no equality when it comes to the offence caused by infidelity in this Latin American quarter, the barrio of Los Angeles. It is not just limited to the attitude of the Latino men as the Caucasian cop illustrates in his diatribes against his wife. Scenes of sexual intimacy and fights are choreographed and enhanced with video at the rear showing the filmic, passionate scenes in black and white.

Serena (Sasha Frost) acts as a narrator and talks about pterodactyls flying over Los Angeles but I'm not sure why. I still can't get to grips with what Chè Walker's play is saying as a whole. I can't make Blaz's friend Karl fit the Iago mould. The performances in Time is Love are good but the message blurred.

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Time Is Love/Tiempo Es Amor
Written and directed by Chè Walker
Starring: Sheila Atim, Jessica Ledon, Gabriel Akuwudike, Cary Crankson, Sasha Frost, Benjamin Cawley
Composer: Sheila Atim
Lighting Design: Tim Van't Hof
Choreographer: Jonny Vieco
Videographer: Chai Rolfe
Production Electrician: Angus Chisholm
Running time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 01223 357 851
Booking to 26th January 2019
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 4th January 2018 evening performance at the Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED (Tube: Earls Court)
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